Saturday 25 January 2020

Two Poems by Gary Day

Gary Day lives in Rushden. He retired in 2013 from De Montfort University where he was a Principal Lecturer in English. He is the author of several critical books, the last of which was The Story of Drama: Tragedy, Comedy and Sacrifice from the Greeks to the Present, and has edited many more including, with Jack Lynch, The Wiley Encyclopaedia of British Literature 1660-1789. He also had a column in the Times Higher for a number of years.  Gary has been writing poetry since his teens but too often work got in the way. Now he’s got no excuse for not finishing what he starts.

Dancing in the Dark

The last of him was ash,
Disputing with the February wind 
Where he should lie.
She followed years later.
I shook her out
On the same grassy spot
Where they had scattered him,
But the May breeze 
Danced her off;
Perhaps to where 
She and he were most themselves, 
The Palm Court ballroom
Of the Grand Hotel, Scarborough.

The coach parties scan the tabloids,
Play the fruit machines,
And take selfies 
On the sweeping 
Victorian staircase.
I follow the signs 
And enter a mirrored space of
Slender columns, moulded cornices
And shell-pink friezes.
Blue curtains flow down
The sides of tall windows
Displaying a soft-shuffling sea
Under the glitter ball 
Of a starry sky. 

I try to imagine 
This now-empty room
As it once was; 
The chatter, the drinks, the cigarette smoke,
The air jumping to drum, trumpet
Piano and strings.
And there he is, my father,
Dinner jacket, dicky bow and patent shoes
Waiting for my mother,
Who shimmers into view, 
Pearled and coiffured.
The invisible band strikes up silently
And, once more, they foxtrot 
Across the floor. 
Outside the moon 
Waltzes with the waves;
But they see only each other 
Casting no reflection
As they spin past
The shadow in the glass

Van Gogh Exhibition

Mostly they are well to do,
Clear complexions and expensive clothes.
They glance at bent backs and broken boots,
Take a photo of Sorrowing Old Man
And move on,
Chatting about investments, catchment areas
And who to invite to dinner.
Mobiles twinkle
In front of Starry Night
Where yellow suns burst 
From a blue sky, 
Their light shuddering 
On the choppy waters
Rising out of the frame.

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Creative Writing Guest Lectures, Spring 2020


Here is a list of the guest lectures, talks, readings and masterclasses hosted by Creative Writing at the University of Leicester this term. For further information about any of these events, please email Jonathan Taylor

Wednesday 29 January 2020, 2-4pm in Bennett Lecture Theatre 4
Michael Caines, Author and Editor at the Times Literary Supplement, ‘Nightmare on Grub Street: Where Journalism and Creative Writing Meet.’
(Part of the MA in Creative Writing – but all welcome).

Tuesday 4 February 2020, 10am-11 in Attenborough 109

Paul Taylor-McCartney, ‘Writing Dystopian Fiction.
(Part of the second-year module, ‘Advanced Creative Writing Skills’ – but all welcome).

Tuesday 11 February 2020, 12-1pm in Ken Edwards 527
Dan Powell, ‘Short Stories and Endings.’
(Part of the first-year module, ‘Introduction to Writing Creatively 2’ – but all welcome).

Monday 16 March 2020, 3.30-5pm in Physics Lecture Theatre B
Jonathan Ruppin, Literary Agent 
(Part of the MA in Creative Writing – but all welcome).

Wednesday 18 March 2020, 2-4pm in Attenborough Film Theatre

Melanie Abrahams, ‘The Literature Ecology: Curating and Producing Work and Life.’
(Part of the MA in Creative Writing and the second-year module, ‘Diversifying the Publishing Industry’ – but all welcome).

Monday 23 March 2020, 10am-12 in Ken Edwards 527

Louis de Bernières, Masterclass
(Part of the MA in Creative Writing – but all welcome. Just email in advance if you want to come along, because places are limited for this masterclass).

Monday 20 January 2020

I'm a Master's Graduate!

By Jessica Bacon

Life Update: I'm a Master's Graduate!

That’s right I've graduated ... again. It was my gradu-bacon (if you will) last week, where I received my Master's in Creative Writing from the University of Leicester!

Not quite sure where those twelve months went, but I certainly have learnt and written more in a year than I have in a long time. I really enjoyed the course and loved going back to graduate with a handful of my course mates in De Montfort Hall. It was an early start, but we avoided the rain and the ceremony included some very inspiring speakers and an excellent band.

Like most ceremonies, it went on for a long while. Who knew there were so many courses on offer? There were seven full pages of graduates to get through in the ceremony and that was the first of two ceremonies that day! 

Even though they were extremely hungry during graduation and thought about leaving to go to the box office to buy snacks (rude), it was great to have my Mum and my boyfriend Dan by my side to share my achievement with.

Now it's all done I feel a huge sense of relief (for not falling over) and achievement (for finishing an MA). It feels very rewarding to start and complete a course in a year. There isn't the long impending slog of a degree of three or more years. It's very snappy, bursting at the seams with learning and it's a really challenging workload and change of pace from an undergraduate degree. 

I am extremely grateful to my course mates and my tutors who provided constant support, advice and feedback on my work throughout the class work and my essays. I felt well supported as a student at Leicester and I think that's quite a rare thing to find at University.

What next?

Well, I wrote 12,000 words of a novel for my MA dissertation that I aim to finish this year. I'd love to send it out to publishers, just to get it out in the open and get some feedback.
I also want to write regularly. The amount I wrote over the twelve month course (35,000 words) has shown me how much I can do alongside working and that if I put my mind to it, I should be able to produce a hefty body of creative work before the year is out.

My Master's and my Graduations always remind me how much I appreciate education. Higher education courses offer the opportunity to learn a great deal about yourself, your work ethic and your determination as well as all the academic knowledge and qualifications that you gain.

I have applied to a PhD and I intend to apply to a few others as well (must act fast, though!). I want to finish my education with a Doctorate, as I feel prepared for a large research project that could benefit both my creative writing and my understanding of literature as a whole. I also want to continue with and grow my side hustles; writing features for magazines, reviewing books and health and beauty products for my blog, as well as collaborations and charity work. I really enjoy being busy and having a varied workload as I have a very wide range of interests all of which I want to pursue - it's just not always possible at the same time.

On another exciting note, I begin a new job in less than two weeks in marketing at a publishers in Cambridge. I'm excited for the new change of pace and to work in a completely different sector of publishing.

About the author
Jessica Bacon has just graduated from her Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Leicester. While undertaking her MA, Jess was the Editor of Architecture Magazine as well as writing articles for Be Kind Magazine, writing material for Sue Ryder's fundraising campaigns and reviewing books for independent publishers on her blog. Jess works as a Library Marketing Executive at the Cambridge University Press. She hopes to finish her novel this year, continue writing for magazines and curating her creative flare on her personal blog, Unexpected Adventures. See: